SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Louisiana Wind Energy
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Louisiana. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the South. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!
New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind turbine development in Louisiana with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Louisiana. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 92,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Louisiana. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Louisiana (1% of the state’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!
Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of wind energy capacity in Louisiana could support 4,143 direct, indirect and induced jobs during construction and approximately 127 annual operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $7 million.
Although Louisiana has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefiting from the wind industry. SWEPCO, an electric utility in northwestern Louisiana, is currently purchasing approximately 469 MW of wind power from the Great Plains. Wind farm developers are also interested in building the state’s first wind farm.
Louisiana is also home to at least three wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Louisiana. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs. The wind energy-related manufacturing facilities in Louisiana at present include:
- Dis-Tran High Voltage Specialists (Pineville, LA) manufactures steel structures for electrical transmission.
- Gulf Island Fabrication (Houma, LA) manufactures foundations for offshore wind turbines.
- Blade Dynamics (New Orleans, LA) manufactures wind turbine blades.